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The Problem With Dan Harmon’s Apology

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Dan Harmon is known to the public as the creator of Community and the executive producer of cult favorite animated series Rick and Morty. In January, Harmon was confronted with and forced to address sexual harassment allegations against him. While Community was being produced, Harmon had taken advantage of his position in power and repeatedly sexually harassed Megan Ganz, a young writer who was just starting her career in the entertainment industry. Without a doubt, Harmon shook Ganz's perception and confidence as a woman, a creative and an employee. That being said, she forgave him after what some called "a heartfelt apology."

Although I am sure she can forgive, but she can't forget, something rubbed me the wrong way during Harmon's self-reflective statements on a recent episode of his podcast Harmontown. I have witnessed creditable websites, newspapers and social media platforms accept Harmon's apology. I have read about how his acceptance and understanding of what he did wrong, his repentance, and his plea for forgiveness are different than all the rest. I have seen people applauding his revolutionary realization that his behavior stemmed from an ugly basic disrespect toward women. Yet everyone seems to forget the fact that this is a grown-ass, intelligent man, who was in his late thirties/early forties when he acted, telling the world he "did it all by not thinking about it, and [he] got away without thinking about it. "

I do appreciate his evident sincerity in his statement, that he is able to openly admit to his mistakes and ask that no one defend him. I do appreciate him addressing the public to think about social injustices. But reading glowing reviews saying that he is a changed man makes me inwardly cringe.

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Dan Harmon prolonged his harassment of Megan Ganz, even though she had repeatedly resisted his advances and "communicated that the idea of what [he] was doing is divesting her to a recourse of integrity." This persistence and demand of her attention, even though she had boldly and clearly stated that it was not mutual and pleaded him to cease his advances, makes me begrudgingly reminisce about things that have personally happened to me.

When I was ten years old, a boy liked me. I told him I didn't like him back. I was the goalie at a soccer game and he was taking a free kick due to a penalty. He kicked the ball right in my stomach. As the ball ricocheted and I was dealing with the pain, he kicked the ball again and hit me in the face. Ultimately, I got away with a bloody nose, but he was laughing as he was apologizing. In my first at year university, a guy stalked me even though I expressed to him I was not interested. At a bar during my fourth year, I told a guy upfront that I did not want to dance with him. He persisted until the point I had to scream in his face to leave me alone.

I am fed up with hearing about men doing misogynistic and misinformed things, and in the end apologizing and claiming that they didn't think about it at the time, or that they didn't know it was wrong.

Why am I writing about this? Because I am sick and tired of being the victim of situations like this, and I am angered by seeing that other women have to deal with this, too. I want to make it clear that an apology is nice, but I'd also prefer it if there wasn't anything to apologize for to begin with. I am furious at the fact that people sympathize with someone who made a public apology about mistreating women, because his apology sounded heartfelt and sincere. Although that very well may be the case (and I am giving him the benefit of the doubt), I am fed up with hearing about men doing misogynistic and misinformed things, and in the end apologizing and claiming that they didn't think about it at the time, or that they didn't know it was wrong.

Those were all the things that were swarming in my head as I listened to Dan Harmon's apology. I was trying not to rip the headphones from my ears, stomp my phone and never watch one of his shows again. In the end, it really comes down with being self-aware and dealing with one's own emotions. As an educated woman, I believe I understand, deal with, and am socially conscious of my actions. I do not need people to project and make me feel uncomfortable and doubt myself, just because they themselves do not know what to do with their own feelings. If you're a grown-ass, successful human, you absolutely have no excuse to justify yourself with misinterpreting the moral compass and being confused between what is right and what is wrong. 

Of course, my experience in today's society has taught me to question everything. So, I really wonder about Hamron's motivation to apologize. After all, he didn't initiate it himself, but apologized publicly after he was confronted by Ganz on Twitter. Perhaps it was a ploy to protect himself and not crash and burn like the rest of the men who have been brought to justice. At the end of the day, I am sick and tired of a lot of things. Mostly that I just spent eleven minutes listening to a forty-something year-old man telling me, a woman in her early twenties, that he didn't want to admit he was wrong, that he couldn't identify his own feelings as inappropriate, and that he continued to traumatize a woman because he was politely rejected. 

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top photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore

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Kalina Nedelcheva is a writer and illustrator based in Toronto. Originally from Bulgaria, she has developed a strong affinity for graphic design and philosophy. Optimistic and outspoken, she always strives to fight for what's right and engage in conceptually-challenging debates. Visit her website https://k-nedelch.wixsite.com and follow her on Instagram @punkpanic.

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